#SyriaWar: Idlib self-care by @ejbeals

Turkey sends reinforcement to its observation posts in #Idlib
Idlib self-care: This thread is offered with 2 major caveats: it obviously only applies to those in the position of privilege of not being in Idlib, and I’m not an expert. Just offering ideas that work for me and may be a starting point in thinking about taking care of yourself.

Working closely on something as gut-wrenchingly awful as Idlib can have an emotional, psychological, physical toll. It'll vary by individual, but it’s also a real thing and simply denying it because things are demonstrably worse for people in Idlib isn’t a great idea long term.

Even if your logical reasoning can currently only extend as far as how to be of service to those most in need, you’re of more service to them if you’re moderately healthy. So, how to do that Physical well-being. In short, the same as normal—eat your veggies and do some exercise. You don’t want to get sick or become lethargic, so resist the comfort food urge on occasion and get some vitamins into your body—you can’t work 18 hours days on mac and cheese alone.

Trauma is stored in our bodies. When you’re fueled by anger and heartbreak that intense energy has to go somewhere. Better if that somewhere is out of you! Boxing is great––or run, swim, walk it off, scream, do all of this at once. It can be hard to make time, but it'll help.

Try to make time in a day to switch off. Even if it’s only cooking dinner, going for a walk without your phone, or watching a TV show. Take a long weekend. You're allowed to take a break if it's getting too much. Let the pressure valve off in small ways before you're overwhelmed.

Emotional/psychological well-being: Vicarious trauma is real, as is grief, survivors guilt, moral injury, loss of faith (in god, in the world, etc), depression and disillusionment. You don't have to negate them b/c you're not in Idlib, even though that's far worse by any metric.

One thing that might help is to think about what you can do within your circumstances and resources to know when all is said and done you left it all on the mat. That when you're battling the ghosts and grief later on, you also know you did everything you reasonably could.

But, be strategic with it. Scrolling twitter all night isn't doing something. Assess what you can reasonably do and prioritize your energy into doing that, and then reduce activities that are simply searingly painful but aren't productive for you or for those suffering.

This looks different for everyone. Maybe you write your representatives, fundraise for charity, nag your editor to write more, provide comfort to those hurting, leak that critical thing you know, think of new policy ideas. Whatever it is your role and resources allow, do that.

Prepare for the fact this hurts and will hurt for a long time. We're not just talking about a bad humanitarian situation here, we're watching the inhumane result of years of inaction. You'll be changed by this, as those who witnessed Rwanda or the Srebrenica massacre were.

Talk about all of it. Talk about how you feel with others who are feeling the same. Talk to a therapist. Write it down. Paint it, cook it, sing it, strum it, shout it. Remember, you're not alone in this.

Take small steps while you're 'in it' to make this easier for yourself. Stay healthy so you can be of service to those most in need and so you can continue to do so. Most of all, take precious care of yourself.

Feel free to reply with your own coping tips and tricks.

Emma Beals

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